Dan Blanchard | Awakening (Raga Bhairav)

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Awakening (Raga Bhairav)

by Dan Blanchard

A morning musical journey for meditation and movement, inspired by Indian Classical Music.
Genre: World: Indian Classical
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
clip
1. Invocation (Feat. Nisha Narsai & Sangeet Mishra)
6:33 $1.29
clip
2. Centering (Alap)
13:29 $1.29
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3. Emerging (Jod with Udu) (Feat. Gabe Marihugh)
11:04 $1.29
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4. Sustaining (Vilambit Gat in Rupak Taal)
9:47 $1.29
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5. Embracing (Madhya Gat in Teentaal)
7:03 $1.29
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6. Elation (Drut Gat in Teentaal)
7:53 $1.29
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7. Transformation (Feat. Nisha Narsai & Sheela Bringi)
10:21 $1.29
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8. Integration (Feat. Nisha Narsai & Sheela Bringi)
8:13 $1.29
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Rāga Bhairav is an early morning raga that is ideal for meditation, contemplation, and introspection. The optimal time is pre-dawn, dawn, and the first few hours after dawn. Bhairav is a wrathful aspect of Lord Shiva and symbolizes the power and determination to break through thoughts and habit patterns to reach a state of peace and tranquility.

Morning sets the tone for the entire day. Due to modern lifestyle and/or habit, often we rush into our day unconsciously. Taking some time to start the day in a peaceful way has many benefits such as a calmer state of mind, less stress, and more vitality, leading to improved quality of life and less dis-ease. It is also helpful to set an intention for the day, for what we would like to accomplish and our demeanor throughout the day.

The album is structured in a way to first support sitting quietly in meditation, doing pranayama, and/or gentle warm-ups. Then rhythm and an increased tempo are added to encouragement movement and to build energy. It then slows down for a final relaxation. However, feel free to choose your own order.

Indian classical music dates back to Vedic times - the rishis (ancient seers of India), deep in meditation, contemplated sound vibrations and tonal patterns and their effect on consciousness. Rāga is a Sanskrit word which means “that which colors or leaves an impression”, and consists of “rules” – specific notes, musical phrases, emphasized notes, specific embellishments, and so on. A rāga is rendered through a sequence of movements with improvisation and thus is different every time it is played.

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Reviews


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Michael Diamond (www.michaeldiamondmusic.com)

Review excerpt from Music & Media Focus
Starting at a relatively young age, Dan has been engaged in an intensive study of Indian classical music and the santoor (an ancient 100 string Indian instrument similar to a hammer dulcimer). His album Awakening is subtitled Rāga Bhairav (pronounced “Buy-ruv) and is an early morning rāga, ideal for meditation, contemplation, and introspection. He has arranged the music on Awakening to follow a particular flow starting more meditatively, and gradually increasing tempo and adding rhythm to encourage movement and build energy before slowing down towards the end to allow the listener to integrate the musical journey.

As can be expected, the first two tracks are quite peaceful and make you want to take a deep breath, close your eyes and go within. On track three, “Emerging,” a clay drum called an Udu, imparts a wonderful earthy ambience and adds sense of motion to the music. The energy builds on track four as tabla drums add to the momentum. As mentioned the tempo increases, and by the time we get to the end of track six, “Elation,” things are really cooking. The perfectly synchronized interplay of the santoor and tabla at this high velocity is impressive, and reflects the years of training it takes a musician to achieve such a level of proficiency.

For a full length review of this CD, please visit: www.michaeldiamondmusic.com

“Transformation, “ the seventh track is a nice long one that adds female vocal, flute, and harmonium and might be equated to a “cool down” after a vigorous workout at the gym. Appropriately titled “Integration,” the last track retains the flute and hamonium bringing us full circle back to a meditative space, allowing time to assimilate what has transpired. Dan and the musicians on the album have done a masterful job of providing an exotic and engaging musical experience that has practical applications for health and well-being.
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Raj Manoharan (www.rajmanreviews.blogspot.com)

The RajMan Review
A lot of musicians dabble in Indian music, but not Dan Blanchard. A student of Indian classical music and santoor for nearly a decade, as well as a certified yoga teacher and therapist and soon-to-be ayurvedic practitioner, Blanchard takes his art seriously. The result is an album of Indian classical music as authentic as if it were done by one of the Indian masters themselves.

Blanchard designed the music on this CD as an accompaniment for morning meditation and spiritual practice, and it sounds as if it is ideally suited for that purpose. This is due to the authentic nature of the music itself. Blanchard plays classical Indian instruments such as the santoor, harmonium, tanpura, and swarmandal. He is also backed by Nisha Narsai on vocals, Sheela Bringi on bansuri flute, Sangeet Mishra on sarangi, Gabe Marihugh on udu and djembe, and Brian Campbell on tabla.

Due to the serious, disciplined classical nature of the music, its appeal beyond yoga and spiritual applications will most likely be geared towards more discerning and open-minded listeners. This is not popular Bollywood music. However, the last two tracks, “Transformation” and “Integration,” which feature Narsai’s beautiful voice, have an East-meets-West sensibility that will be of interest to those familiar with the Indian music explorations of George Harrison, Andy Summers, and 2002.

Blanchard has poured his heart and soul into creating a masterful, high-quality recording that, because of his sincerity, passion, dedication, and talent, takes its rightful place among the classics of artistic and spiritual Indian music.
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Kathy Parsons

From MainlyPiano
Dan Blanchard’s "Awakening - Raga Bhairav" (pronounced “buy-ruv”) was created as a musical accompaniment for early morning meditation and movement. Inspired by Indian classical music, Blanchard performs on santoor (a 100-string Indian instrument similar to the hammered dulcimer), tanpura, swarmandal, and harmonium and is joined on the various eight tracks by Sheela Bringi on bansuri flute, Brian Campbell on tabla, Gabe Marihugh on udu and djembe, Sangeet Mishra on sarangi, and Nisha Narsai on vocals. Raga is one of the primary forms of Indian classical music, and its name is Sanskrit for “that which colors or leaves an impression.” The raga form consists of “rules” that designate specific notes and embellishments, musical phrasing, emphasized notes, etc. Comprised of several movements that incorporate improvisation, a raga is different every time it is played. Ragas are often composed for a specific time of day, and this one is intended for early morning - particularly before dawn and the few hours that follow. It is structured to begin with quiet mediation or gentle warm-ups. As it evolves, rhythm is added and the tempo becomes livelier to encourage physical movement. It then slows down again to a more relaxed tempo. The album plays as an uninterrupted whole, but the eight tracks are easy to access individually, allowing the listener to change the playing order, if desired.

"Awakening" begins with “Invocation,” which contains the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra from the "Rig Veda," an ancient Indian scripture that is used to enhance health and vitality; Nisha Narsai’s beautiful vocals are hypnotic. “Centering (Alap)” is the actual beginning of the raga, and the melodic structure is slowly improvised without rhythm. This movement is very quiet and peaceful. “Emerging (Jod with Udu)” adds udu (a clay drum) to the hypnotic santoor, introducing rhythm to the melody. The tempo is still very calm, but energy is starting to build within the music. “Sustaining (Vilambit Gat in Rupak Taal)” has a 7-beat rhythmic cycle that continues at a slow tempo. It is accompanied by the tabla (an Indian percussion instrument similar to bongo drums). “Embracing (Madhya Gat in Teentaal)” picks up the tempo a bit, again accompanied by tabla. “Elation (Drut Gat in Teentall)” pulls out all the stops, increasing the tempo to a breathless pace. The climax (Jhala) would typically end the raga, but Blanchard continues with two more movements for gradually decelerating to a more relaxed tempo. “Transformation” slows dramatically, adding vocals, flute, and harmonium; Nisha Narsai’s singing is again magical and hypnotic. “Integration” is a “final relaxation” with vocal and flute, intended to integrate the musical journey and bring this compelling raga to a conclusion.

"Awakening" is music with a purpose, and Dan Blanchard is obviously a musician who has studied Indian classical music and instruments in great depth. If you are into this kind of music and/or meditation, this album would be an excellent choice.
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